Kin of 1,530 seek closure as govt yet to criminalise disappearance

  • Int’l Day of the Disappeared
- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu

Aug 31, 2015-

Bhim Bahadur Basnet has no idea where his two grown-up sons are. In 2003, his two sons Pushpa, 25, and Dhirendra, 20, were arrested from Kathmandu and detained in Bhairabnath Battalion. The 66-year-old father says he hasn’t seen his sons ever since. He doesn’t know if they are alive or dead.

“But I know the persons responsible for the arrest and disappearance of my sons,” he told Lokendra Mallick, the chairman of the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP). “I just hope the commission will find out the truth.”

Basnet said he has done everything he could to find the whereabouts of his sons. “The witness of their arrest is my third son, Birendra, who, too, was arrested and released later,” he said.

Like Basnet, there are many others who lost their family members without any trace during the decade-long Maoist insurgency.  A government report shows a total of 1,530 persons disappeared at the hands of both the Maoists and the state sides during the conflict. Their whereabouts remain unknown till date.

The government formed CIEDP in February this year to investigate into the cases of disappearances and to bring the people responsible to justice. The CIEDP, however, has yet to start its works.

Mallick said the commission’s regulations have been finalised and forwarded to the Cabinet for approval. “The CIEDP will begin its works once its regulations are endorsed,” said Mallick. He also assured Basnet to bring the people behind their disappearance to justice.

“Rest assured we will carry out an independent investigation into the cases of disappearances and we will do our level best to bring the rights violators to justice,” he said.

Despite Mallick’s assuring words to the families of the disappeared, prosecution of those involved in disappearance cases is still a far cry under the existing law.

The government has not yet formulated an Act to criminalise forced disappearance cases so far. Despite the Supreme Court’s orders and requests from rights bodies, the government has not prepared the proposed Act.

“We have limited jurisdiction under the existing transitional justice law, which requires amendments even to incorporate the court’s directives,” said Mallick.

On June 1, 2007, the SC had directed government to criminalise forced disappearance cases. The court has issued two other orders to criminalise forced disappearances, amend the laws in line with international human rights laws and practices, and ensure participation of victims in the transitional justice process.

Despite being a signatory to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Nepal is yet to criminalise the gross human rights violation.

 The National Network of Families of the Disappeared and Missing, Conflict Victims Common Platform and human rights organisations on Sunday organised a joint programme to commemorate the day.

In a joint statement, they urged the government to ensure investigations to determine the fate and whereabouts of disappeared persons and prosecute the suspects without any delay.

“Ending impunity, ensuring accountability, and strengthening the rule of law are essential for a durable transition from armed conflict to sustainable peace in Nepal. Without disclosing the fate and whereabouts of the victims of enforced disappearance, and ensuring accountability thereto, transition could never be complete,” read the statement.

Published: 31-08-2015 08:35

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